Microsoft announced Tuesday it will donate cloud computing resources worth $1 billion to global nonprofits over the next three years, in a move that it said was aimed at ensuring that benefits of technology were not limited to the wealthy.
"Now more than 70,000 organisations will have access to technology that will help them solve our greatest societal challenges and ultimately improve the human condition and drive new growth equally".
On-demand access to huge computational power and shared resources could help lead to solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems, said Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer. The program builds upon an already successful program that provides similar access to Office 365 for nonprofits. The aim is to serve 70,000 nonprofits in the next three years.
The U.S. tech giant, which stepped up its charity efforts under the banner of "Microsoft Philanthropies" last month, has been trying to aggressively expand its cloud computing services amid rising competition.
"In Nepal, after the devastating earthquake there last April, disaster relief workers from the United Nations used the public cloud to collect and analyze massive amounts of data about schools, hospitals and homes to speed up access to compensatory entitlements, relief packages and other assistance", Nadella points out. Microsoft is also planning to donate cloud services combined with last-mile connectivity for underserved communities around the world.
Microsoft Philanthropies intends to support 20 of these projects in at least 15 countries around the world by the middle of 2017. Cloud computing makes it possible to reason over quantities of data to produce specific insights and intelligence.
Cloud computing lets people use the Internet to tap into processing or data storage capacity at huge data centers.
Through a partnership with the University of Texas at Austin called Project Catapult, Microsoft makes advanced cloud computing technology available to researchers that have demonstrated the ability to deliver lower power and cost, higher-quality results, or a combination of both.
Microsoft's program to use TV white spaces for connectivity has also been criticized by the Indian mobile industry, which is demanding that the white spaces should be auctioned rather than given free.